With the City of Clarksville's gas and water utility to hold a public open house in Todd County tomorrow regarding a controversial proposal to run a new natural gas line from north of Elkton to Montgomery County, a local lawmaker has pre-filed a bill dealing with eminent domain for next year's session.
Eighth District State Representative John Tilley chairs the House Judiciary Committee and pre-filed legislation that would make the law governing eminent domain clearer when issues arise.
The bill would specify that any proposed oil and gas pipelines are available for “public use as a common carrier” for similar products, which is a more stringent guideline when compared to the current law that requires these pipelines only be of a “public service” when it comes to eminent domain. That's important in Todd County because Clarksville's current proposal would reportedly not allow a new utility to serve residents in rural areas that currently don't have access to natural gas.
The Public Service Commission also would play a gatekeeper role if those constructing pipelines cannot reach agreement with private landowners.
The most prominent ongoing eminent domain case in Kentucky is the Bluegrass Pipeline , which would ship natural gas liquids from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia to Texas and Louisiana. The planned route in Kentucky includes 13 counties, none of which support construction.
Tilley says Kentucky's eminent domain policies need to be revisited and it's possible these issues are becoming more prominent because of a perceived weakness in the current law.
Todd Fiscal Court has hired Washington D.C. Attorney Jennifer Waters to help represent their interest in a likely court battle with Clarksville. The open house will run from 5:30 until 7:30 at Todd County Middle School.
Todd Fiscal Court unanimously approved first reading of its property tax rates Friday morning.
Assuming it passes second reading at a special-called meeting September 19th at 8 a.m., property taxes in Todd County will remain the same at 9.9 cents per $100 of assessed value.
In other action, magistrates heard from new Todd County EMS Director Shane Johnson, who works for ComCare. He said the process of switching from a county-operated to a private ambulance service has gone smoothly.
Dispatch Coordinator Karen Stratton said there has been a good response to the CodeRed system in Todd County. Residents can sign up to receive emergency alerts over the phone by going to codered web.com.
The Pennyrile Area Development District was crucial in helping make grant funding for the Todd County Career Path Institute a reality and officials there say it will benefit the whole region.
PADD Assistant Director Jason Vincent says it's an exciting time for Todd County and anyone else who wants to take courses at the facility to be built on the campus of Todd County Central High School.
Vincent says he hopes to see the project bid out as soon as January and for construction to be finished in early 2015.
A 1.5 million dollar federal grant was approved earlier this week, which will combine with $500,000 in block grants and $500,000 bonded by Todd Fiscal Court to build the tech center. Hopkinsville Community College will administer the academic programs and Christian County helped by contributing $250,000 of the block grant money.
Vincent will take over as PADD Executive Director January 1st.
Kentucky is taking another step toward industrial hemp production.
The Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission has directed the state Department of Agriculture staff to begin writing regulations governing industrial hemp production in the commwealth and voted to serve notice to the federal government that Kentucky is moving forward.
Hemp is legal to grow under state law after legislation from this year's General Assembly and Ag. Commissioner Jamie Comer says a Department of Justice official recently testified the federal government would not prosecute hemp farming.
Kentucky Department of Agriculture attorney Luke Morgan says a 2003 regulation clarifies that industrial hemp is not marijuana and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration does not have jurisdiction over hemp.
Commissioner Comer says the letter will state Kentucky is taking the next step toward growing industrial hemp, unless told otherwise.
Comer says his office will be hard at work at bringing processors to Kentucky to hopefully create new opportunities for farmers.
The commissioner says poultry and equine businesses have expressed interest in hemp bedding, which would be easy to process and would “jump start” the industry in Kentucky.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has announced several re-surfacing projects in Todd County through the Rural Secondary Roads program.
A news release lists the projects as a 1.1-mile section of Clifty-Kirkmansville Road from Squire Groves Road to East Fork Pond River Bridge, a 2.3-mile section of Pilot Rock Road from Buck Fork Creek Bridge to KY 171 and a 1.6 mile section of Penchem Road from KY 181 to Old Railroad Lane.
Todd County Crushed Stone was awarded the contract for just over $449,000.